Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: June 14, 2018
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prohibits its members from having religious beliefs and demands to expel those who belong to religious organizations. Even family members of CCP card holders are discouraged from participating in religious ceremonies. “Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members,” said Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs last year, warning that those who disobey will be punished.
A member of the CCP, Li Jiazhuo (pseudonym, 66-years-old), belonged to a house church in Yanting County, Sichuan Province. In the morning of August 31, 2017, he was arrested and detained by the police while having a meeting with five other believers at his house. Though soon released for medical reasons, Li Jiazhuo was kicked out of the Party and kept under strict surveillance by the police, harassed and threatened.
At 8 a.m. on August 31, three officials – village’s Party branch secretary, Mr. Zhao, secretary of the Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Yuan, and a policeman from the Yanting County Public Security Bureau – barged into Li’s house and forced him to surrender the Bible and take down the cross on the wall. They ransacked the whole house and took Li to the Township government in a police car confiscating Li’s Bible, the cross, and an MP5 player.
An hour later, a Baizi Township policeman, Liang, interrogated Li for six hours, rebuking him that the CCP is an atheist party. “The Party does not allow people to believe in God. As a Party member for years, you went as far as believing in a ‘cult’ and organizing people to study the Bible.”
At past 4 p.m., the police released Li but instructed him to report to them when demanded. They warned him if he were found believing in God again, his family would be implicated, his grandson’s eligibility for university and employment would be affected.
A month later, on September 27, two policemen from the Anjia police station drove to Li’s house and cited him for violating Article 23 of the Public Security Management Punishment Ordinance. In the morning of October 24, the same police station called Li and ordered to report to them. After photographing him and noting his personal information, he was charged with “disrupting social order” and escorted to the Yanting County detention center where he was supposed to be detained for nine days. However, upon reading Li’s medical history of “cerebral infarction,” which may cause death at any moment, and, fearing liability, the detention center police released him.
The CCP’s persecution was far from over – on December 11, the Yanting County Disciplinary Committee and Standing Committee expelled Li from the Party on the grounds of religious belief. Afterward, the CCP officials continuously came to Li’s house to monitor, harass, and threaten him. The police instructed Li’s neighbors to monitor him and report if he was in contact with religious believers. They threatened his family that if Li continued to believe in God, not only would he be taken to jail but his relatives would be implicated also.
Threats and persecution brought tremendous pressure on Li. He lost the support of relatives and friends who condemned his belief in God, made remarks and innuendos behind his back, ridiculed and sneered at him. As a result, Li lost his appetite and could not sleep, and, eventually, had a nervous breakdown. Li’s rheumatism recurred: he couldn’t even hold a pair of chopsticks, and it took a few days of injections for his conditions to improve. Li’s wife said that they were afraid to have people at their house or be seen in a group because the police told the villagers to report on them if they saw them with strangers. “When someone visited us, we noticed neighbors asking around who it was. In China, when one person believes in God, the whole family is persecuted,” lamented Li’s wife.
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Bitter Winter plans to report on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We plan to publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).